Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Overdoing It....A Tad, Or A Lot?

Are we overachievers? I’m just wondering.

When I was a kid, when it came time for Valentines Day, our class got a brown lunch sack and decorated it. That was it.  Today our kids have to go all out decorating boxes in order to win class contests.

When I was a kid and I played softball, at the end of the game we would get a ticket to use at the concessions stand. If we wanted anything in addition to that, we had to buy it. Today, parents are required to supply treats and drinks for a whole team.

When I was a kid and I played volleyball and basketball – if I didn’t do very well – I didn’t play. Period. Today we have to make sure that every kid on the team not only plays but gets equal time playing – no matter how good they are.

When I was a kid, if I did good in class, I got a sticker and a smiley face on my paper. Today, our kids get gum, candy and more as rewards.

I’m just wondering if we aren’t overdoing it a tad – or a LOT. I mean, our kids are getting so indulged. And we wonder why they feel entitled? We feed into it.

Parents are just as guilty as teachers, or coaches, in making sure kids get a “pay off” for hard work when sometimes the hard work should be the pay off. We try so hard to be the best, outdo the rest, and fit in that we forget that we are teaching our kids that “image” is everything. I mean, what are we saying if we stress out over how grandiose their Valentines Box is when a paper bag would suffice? What are we saying when we reward every little effort they make? Where does the inner pride and feeling of doing something just for the reward of doing it well and feeling good about it come in? It’s getting lost, I’m telling you.

Sure, I don’t want my kids to be viewed as dorks or outsiders any more than the next parent does. But sometimes I just have to wonder if we shouldn’t draw a line somewhere and say “this doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things.” I don’t want to feel pressured to get the most expensive snacks for the team so that I look good.  I don’t want to see my child get a lot of game time if they don’t learn that if they really want something, then they might have to work hard to get it. Because what matters more to me is what they learn internally so that if/when things fall apart in life THEY won’t fall apart too.

I think we’ve all become a little too obsessive-compulsive about things that shouldn’t be such big deals. We want our children to look the best, be the best, and hey – we want that for ourselves too.  But at what cost? I’d rather my child beam with pride over a shoebox decorated with stickers that they had a total ball applying, than a big ornate box that every parent in the room KNOWS that I did instead of my kid.

Yes, I think we need to take a good look at our motivation as parents. Image isn’t everything. It’s an empty lie. What you learn in the process of working and applying yourself… now that’s a different story. 


Jennifer Carter said...

Really thought provoking post, well explained, as a mother & grandmother I find myself agreeing with many of your points.

Dionna said...

Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I'm so glad you felt I explained myself well - something I always strive for, but don't always accomplish! :)